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One of the many disappointments of the first three games of this season in Jacksonville is rookie linebacker Myles Jack.
Jack, a star at UCLA who was selected in the second round of this year’s draft, has barely played: He has been on the field for only 16 plays on defense, all late in the Jaguars’ blowout loss to the Chargers. He has also played on special teams, but he hasn’t contributed the way he was expected to contribute.
Still, Jaguars coach Gus Bradley says the team is not disappointed and expects Jack to make an impact this season.
“He’s getting better and we’re putting a lot on his plate,” Bradley said, via the Florida Times-Union. “I would say the last two weeks he has really grown. He’s really grown as far as being in shape and handling all the duties that we are asking of him.”
Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said the Jaguars had been working Jack at middle and weakside linebacker but could put him at strongside linebacker just to get him on the field.
“He understands that those guys in front of him are playing well, but we’ve got to find a way to get him on the grass,” Wash said. “I don’t think anything’s top secret. I just think there are other positions he can play on our defense.”
Jack will surely contribute to the Jaguars’ defense at some point, but it has to be disappointing that he hasn’t been able to yet.
Today, it’s hard to imagine where they’d be without him.
The veteran running back was named AFC offensive player of the month for September, a reward for the league’s leading rusher.
Blount has topped 100 yards the last two games, helping to fill in the cracks for a team playing without its starting quarterback (Tom Brady) and with an injured backup (Jimmy Garoppolo). His work’s a lot of the reason they can play a rookie (Jacoby Brissett) on a short week’s preparation and still be 3-0.
He has 75 carries for 295 yards and four touchdowns so far this season.
With Texans defensive end J.J. Watt on injured reserve and gone for at least eight weeks, the obvious reaction has become that the team’s offense needs to do more. The new leader of the Houston offense doesn’t necessarily agree with that.
“I don’t think anything changes offensively now that the news of J.J. going on IR has come out,” Brock Osweiler told reporters on Wednesday. “Bottom line, we need to score points. We need to score a lot of them. We knew that whether he was put on IR or not. There’s been a great focus on that. I think Monday in practice we came out, we had a really good day. I think today was a little bit better and I hope that the rest of the week keeps getting better and better because we know we need to do our part offensively. I think the defense has done a tremendous job this year through the first three games. Now it’s time for the offense to step up as a unit, finish drives, score points, protect the football and do our part of the deal.”
He’s right; the offense needs to keep doing what it’s been doing. If it tries to do even more, it just won’t work, in the same way it didn’t work last Thursday.
That shutout loss to the Patriots was only Osweiler’s 10th career start. Osweiler addressed the question of whether his big-picture lack of experience should be a factor in the assessment of his performance.
“I don’t think — in fact, I know for a fact — I don’t use my lack of starts as an excuse for anything,” Osweiler said. “I expect myself to play at an extremely high level. I have great confidence in my abilities and what I can do and I have great confidence in the teammates around me to help me do my job. I’m never going to use my lack of starts for an excuse or say ‘I’ll figure it out eventually’ or anything like that. Bottom line, I expect to play at an extremely high level and an extremely high level right now.”
The Texans will need it. An impaired defense puts more pressure on an offense, giving the offense less desirable field position and fewer turnovers.
Bengals cornerback Adam Jones said after last Sunday’s loss to the Broncos that part of the reason that the team is not panicking about a 1-2 start is that tight end Tyler Eifert and linebacker Vontaze Burfict are returning to the lineup.
It looks like the wait for Eifert will extend at least another week after he was listed as doubtful to play against the Dolphins on Thursday night, but the wait for Burfict is coming to an end.
On Sirius XM NFL Radio Thursday morning, coach Marvin Lewis said that Burfict is “raring to go” after serving a three-game suspension and will be in the lineup against Miami. Lewis said he wasn’t sure how much Burfict will play after three weeks off and a short week leading into this game, but that he “raises the level” of everyone on the team so they’ll probably be looking for as many spots to get him in as they can.
When Burfict is in the game, people will be paying close attention to how he conducts himself after serving a suspension for a series of hits that the league felt violated the rules governing player safety. Should Burfict not be able to avoid those hits, a longer suspension and the Bengals will have to think about looking elsewhere for a player who can raise their level without crossing the line.
Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert felt like he was being shortchanged by a local auto shop.
So when he paid them, he did it in change.
According to David Newton of ESPN.com, Tolbert resolved a squabble with a mechanic by paying his $3,900 bill in coins.
“They was upset,” Tolbert said. “If you had to count basically four grand in coins you’d be upset too, but they got what they asked for.”
The situation began with a dispute over some work Tolbert wanted done on a classic car. He and Motion Lab Tuning went back and forth at each other on social media, with Tolbert claiming he was quoted a 10-day repair and a certain price, only to be billed a higher amount two months later when the work wasn’t completed. He referred to them as “crooks” on his Instagram account.
That caused the shop to reply on Facebook, saying Tolbert wanted them to do the work for free, calling him “a real scumbag that doesn’t want to pay his bills.”
Tolbert said he initially tried to write a check, but the owner wouldn’t accept it.
“So what kind of respectable establishment won’t take a check?” Tolbert said. “They said they won’t take my check, it wasn’t going to clear the bank. I was like, ‘Whew! You’re throwing shots. So I’ve got one for you.’
“So I went to the bank and got $3,900 in coins. It was pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters … everything. I didn’t care one bit. I took a truck load of it and put it right there where he wanted it, and got my truck towed back to my buddy’s shop.”
The moral of the story is: Don’t nickel-and-dime Mike Tolbert, unless you want the same kind of treatment in return.
Chargers coach Mike McCoy knew what it sounded like, so he acted quickly to head off any speculation.
According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Chargers left tackle King Dunlap’s absence from practice was described as his “being treated for migraines.”
“This is not linked to concussions,” McCoy said. “It’s migraines.”
The question was reasonable, as Dunlap has some history of head injuries (at least four documented since 2012).
He was a late scratch last week against the Colts with what the team termed “an illness,” after being on and off the practice field, which raised questions about his status. The Chargers termed him day-to-day last week.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher said this week that defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s lack of sacks and modest overall numbers through the first three games are not reflective of the impact that Donald is having on opposing offenses.
Fisher isn’t the only NFL coach who feels that way about a star defensive player. Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack had 15 sacks last season, but he’s yet to have one this year while recording 13 tackles.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio invoked Donald’s name while on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan while saying that Mack’s impact can’t be judged solely by the stat line.
“He’s probably a lot like maybe a guy like Aaron Donald for the Rams,” Del Rio said. “You’re talking about a couple dominant players that, in our case, with Khalil, he’s getting an awful lot of attention. That’s going to free up opportunities for other people. There were a couple of times in this past game where he was literally being tackled prior to hitting the quarterback. And the results of the rushes were winning 10 out of the 12 on third down and things like that. So he’s impacting the game. And what I keep saying is the numbers will come. Good players are going to end up putting up good numbers. His effort is great. Everything is great except having to really answer to questions about how come he’s not just steamrolling people and getting sack after sack.”
The Raiders defense took a step forward in last Sunday’s win over the Titans. After giving up 1,035 yards and 69 points in the first two weeks of the year, the Raiders held the Titans to 393 yards in a 17-10 win while forcing three turnovers.
Mack had a hand in that beyond the two tackles he was credited with making and getting the overall defensive effort moving in the right direction is more significant for the Raiders than Mack piling up sacks while the unit struggles to keep opponents out of the end zone.
If you remove the other teams in the NFC East from the equation, Giants quarterback Eli Manning has faced the Vikings more often than any other team in the league.
Those outings have generally not gone well for Manning. He has a career passer rating of 54.8 in seven starts against Minnesota with five touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Five of those interceptions have been brought back for touchdowns, so there have been quite a few horrors for Manning against the team he’ll be facing next Monday night.
Manning wasn’t interested in answering questions about those past games on Wednesday, saying “only the next one” matters before making a labored attempt at humor when asked if the Vikings have his number.
“I don’t think, ah, I don’t think anybody has my phone number on the Vikings,” Manning said, via the New York Post. “Maybe Linval [Joseph], I’m not sure. I’m trying to think if I have anybody’s number. Maybe somebody, I’m sure. Bradford! I think I got Sam Bradford’s number. He’s got my number. I can’t think of anybody else’s off hand. I’ll look in my phone and get back to you on that one.”
This Vikings defense should make it tough for Manning to break with the past. They’ve forced nine turnovers through three games while the Giants have given the ball away seven times, a set of numbers that probably don’t make Manning chuckle as much as his other number routine.
The Dolphins have ruled out four starters for tonight’s game.
Wait, wasn’t this the four-game stretch in which the Patriots were being punished?
The Bengals have gotten used to adjusting on the fly on defense.
Not a single F’ing Colts fan has complained about their announcer’s on-air slip.
The Broncos are on the verge of a milestone for owner Pat Bowlen.
The Chargers injury report is kind of a horror novel.
Washington wants to run more than the team has shown so far this season.
The Bears’ problem on defense isn’t complicated (and that’s the problem).
The Lions are still missing two key defensive pieces.
The Packers have plenty to work on during the bye week.
The Falcons are making the time-share backfield work.
The Cardinals need to be able to trust their leaders to bring along young players.
The Rams have shown some ability to make big plays.
Seahawks OL coach Tom Cable said his group just needs to grow.
The Jets may need to add a receiver to the roster ahead of Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.
Eric Decker was held out of practice on Wednesday due to a shoulder injury. Decker has been dealing with the issue for a little while and aggravated it against the Chiefs last Sunday, leading coach Todd Bowles to say that the wideout will “probably” have an MRI to assess the extent of the injury.
Decker was able to play last week without a lot of practice time, leaving Bowles to hold off on making a call about his chances of playing this week.
“Not sure yet,” Bowles said in comments distributed by the team. “Anybody that doesn’t practice, I’m concerned about. He came back last week without practicing, so we just have to wait and see.”
If Decker is down, the Jets will be short on wideouts because rookie Jalin Marshall will be out a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury of his own. The Jets have Quincy Enunwa and rookies Robby Anderson and Charone Peake behind Brandon Marshall and Decker, leaving Bowles to say that they may have to make a roster move to round out the group.
Washington rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson is still bothered by a lingering injury, and coach Jay Gruden admitted he was “very” concerned about it and may have to shut Doctson down for a few weeks.
“We’ve had all of the tests, and there is really nothing there that we should be concerned about from a long-term problem,” Gruden said, via John Keim of ESPN.com. “It’s just, he is dealing with some pain. We don’t know why it is, but we have to try and figure out what it is and get it fixed.
“It could be a possibility or a time that we put him down for a couple more weeks or a couple more days like we’re taking him off today, probably sit him down tomorrow and see if that helps a little bit.”
Their first-rounder didn’t play last week, after feeling something in his left foot during pregame warmups. He didn’t practice yesterday.
Doctson initially injured his foot during OTAs in May, and didn’t practice again until the start of the regular season, citing Achilles soreness. He played the first two games, catching one pass for 57 yards.
“We keep thinking he’s getting better, and he keeps teasing us running out there, making a great catch and looking good,” Gruden said, “and then the next day he gets sore. . . .
“This is new to everybody, and the key is to get him healthy. We are not trying to rush him. We are just trying to see how he feels each day. If he can go, he goes, and if not, he doesn’t. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”
Washington’s fortunate to have a deep enough receiving corps to survive it, but Doctson’s status has become something they constantly have to monitor, which has to be frustrating for any team.
Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib has made plenty of plays in his career.
But when he was in Tampa Bay, he made mostly headlines, and the wrong kind.
Older now, he said fans who remember him there will see a different person than the ones the Buccaneers gave away for pennies on the dollar in 2012.
“The biggest thing that changed is I’m 30 years old now,” Talib said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “A lot older. A lot more mature. A lot more professional, I would say. It’s simply football. It means a lot to just be accomplishing goals and in football to be a Super Bowl champ, to tie Deion Sanders for interceptions for touchdowns. Man, it’s a blessing to be successful in the game that I love.”
The reference to Sanders was in regards to tying the legendary cornerback for fourth on the all-time interceptions returned for touchdowns list with his Week Two pick-six aganst the Colts. It was his ninth, tying him with Sanders and Hall of Famers Aeneas Williams and Ken Houston. The record is 12 by Rod Woodson, while Charles Woodson and Darren Sharper have 11 each. That’s the kind of company Talib keeps on the field. But the Bucs remember a different player.
The 2012 season included a suspension for what he claims was Adderall, which was sort of a final straw which led the Bucs to trade him and a seventh-round pick to the Patriots for a fourth-rounder. That came after he hit a teammate at the rookie symposium, swung his helmet at a teammate, assaulted a taxi driver, and was involved in a fight with his sister’s boyfriend which included a gun being pulled.
“I would tell my younger self to start early, man,” Talib said. “Don’t wait until Year 4 or Year 5 to start watching the film and start really being a professional football player. Just start early, and who knows where I could be today if I would’ve started early.”
Of course, for all his maturity, there’s still the small matter of being shot in the leg this offseason at a Dallas nightclub, though there were no charges and no league punishment for that one (since nobody’s talking).
The NFL’s plans to play a game in China have run into some stumbling blocks.
Despite reports that the Rams and 49ers would play in China in 2018, NFL Executive V.P. of International Mark Waller told Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com that there’s probably more work to do than can be done in two years.
“I would say there’s a low likelihood of it happening,” Waller said. “But we’re working hard to see if we can make it work.”
There are major logistical challenges to flying the Rams and 49ers 13 hours to Beijing, having them spend a week practicing and playing in a country with a 15-hour time difference, then having them fly back and get ready to play another game. It’s also still unclear what time of day a game in China would be played, as the league would want it to be on at a good time for both Chinese fans to attend and American fans to watch. And it’s still unclear whether there’s enough of a fan base in China to sell out a stadium.
“When do the teams get back? How do you schedule them? Does it affect the teams coming back?” Waller said. “If we want to do this in China, it has to be a good time for Chinese fans, but also so that U.S. fans can watch. And we want to make sure we can keep growing it.”
The NFL may have already grown as popular as it’s going to get in the United States, and so the owners want to grow the sport internationally. That might eventually involve playing games in China, but it may still be a few more years before that can happen.
Roethlisberger will face Peters for the first time this Sunday. Even though the Steelers faced the Kansas City Chiefs last year, Roethlisberger didn’t play due to injury. Landry Jones started instead for the Steelers.
Nevertheless, Peters has left a mark on Big Ben.
“He catches every ball that is thrown his way. What a phenomenal player,” Roethlisberger said, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star.
“Offensive guys always make fun of defensive players — they play defense because they can’t catch. Well, he can catch everything. It hits him in the hands, he catches it. It bounces in the air, he catches it.
“The way that he reads routes, the way that he jumps routes, it just seems like he almost has the team’s offensive playbook.”
Peters is coming off AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after intercepting Ryan Fitzpatrick twice last Sunday against the New York Jets. He’s already compiled 12 career interceptions and 33 passes defended in 19 career games with the Chiefs.
To do so, they waived running back Terrence Magee.
Magee played limited snaps in the game and rushed for 12 yards on three carries.
Rawls is expected to miss several weeks with a cracked fibula. Prosise has a cracked bone in his wrist that has kept him from playing the last two weeks and will take several more weeks to fully heal.
Spiller’s addition gives Seattle an immediate option as a third-down back to pair with Christine Michael until the rest of their running backs can get back to full strength.